What Is Melatonin?

by Melissa Chichester

What happened in 1958?

NASA was created. The first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, reached the North Pole. The Hope Diamond was dedicated to the Smithsonian. And American physician and professor Aaron Lerner, along with his colleagues, successfully isolated and discovered the melatonin hormone. Since then, research has uncovered a lot more about melatonin, including how it works in the body and how it functions. 

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone responsible for supporting the sleep-wake cycle, present in both animals and humans.*

The production and release of melatonin is designed to fall in the morning and increase in the evening to support sleep.*

Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, a small, pea-sized gland in the brain. This gland is often referred to as the “third eye,” and it is still a bit of a mystery to researchers. It is named for its pinecone shape and in humans, the pineal gland is about one centimeter in length. In dogs, it is only one millimeter long! 

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Melatonin and sleep 

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), studies suggest that melatonin is useful for supporting sound sleep and can help with bouts of occasional sleeplessness related to jet lag and daylight savings time. 

Blue light from electronics is a modern-day convenience that may interrupt melatonin levels. Melatonin is a useful helper that assists with occasional sleeplessness, including for those with jet lag, or anyone else seeking to improve their quality of rest.* 

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How to use melatonin effectively

Regulating your biological clock after a fun vacation, sleep disturbances caused by work, or occasional sleeplessness requires attention to timing. Melatonin supplementation is recommended to take about an hour to thirty minutes before you want to fall asleep.

Once you consume melatonin, it is best that you stop looking at blue screens and practice relaxation techniques before you try and sleep.

Melatonin comes in many forms for supplementation, including liquid supplements, gummies, and easy-to-swallow capsules.

The bottom line on melatonin: it is a clinically studied ingredient that works in harmony with your natural sleep cycle to support sound sleep.*